Mayor Announces Proposed Plan for Legacy Money

By Scott Sarvay
By Rachel Martin

October 30, 2012 Updated Oct 30, 2012 at 11:12 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – After sorting through 1,000 ideas over the past 22 months, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Legacy Fort Wayne gave their final recommendations to City Council on how to spend the Legacy money.

Mayor Henry says it wasn’t an easy task, but he and Legacy Fort Wayne, a guiding initiative on how to spend the Fort Wayne Community Trust and Light Lease Settlement funds (Legacy Funds), were able to narrow it down four specific areas or interest: Downtown and Riverfront Development, Improving Infrastructure, Youth and Prep Sports Development, and Endowments.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the citizens of Fort Wayne, it's not going to come again,” he said. “I think we need to take it and invest it in not only some needs and wants and desires that serve us today, but will actually carry on to the next generation.”

Currently, there’s $47 million in the Legacy Fund and development officials say they'll receive $28 million more from Indiana Michigan Power over the next 12-15 years. Fort Wayne Director of Community Development John Urbans says the City only plans to spend between $5 million and $7 million on initial projects and will save $30 million back for future investments.

“It’s all about having dollars reserved for a future project, for future community investments so the City has dollars the City has the financial foot-hold moving forward and we’re not utilizing all these dollars right now,” said Urbans. “It’s about saving dollars and investing those dollars to continue to build the foundation.”

Perhaps the projects getting the most attention are Downtown and Riverfront Development and Youth and Prep Sports development. On Tuesday night’s meeting, Urbans said Downtown and Riverfront Development is the number one regional quality of life issue and most important element in economic development. Ideas include the beautification of downtown, more signage, underpass light installations, building a small scale urban grocery store, attracting more college-age students downtown and converting Fairfield Avenue and Ewing Street into two-way streets. Urbans says they’d like to reserve $500 thousand of the Legacy Fund for a river plan study.

“It’s looking on how we can develop along our rivers, where we can develop, where we can’t develop. How is flooding affected? This will set the stage for how we move forward,” said Urbans.

Urbans says the City would also like to review how they can either better utilize current sports facilities or whether a new one should be created. Urbans says

“Where can we be nationally and regionally significant? We have a lot of facilities in our community right now, but what other sports can we utilize to both bring people to Fort Wayne to participate, but also provide better access to our residents?” he said.

The Fort Wayne City Trust Ordinance, which ensures the best stewardship of the Legacy Funds, was also proposed tonight. City Council took no actions Tuesday night, but the ordinance, along with the recommendations, are expected to be approved during council’s next couple meetings.

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